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Power play caused plenty of problems

The Sports Xchange

--The Blackhawks' power play has been a major point of contention publicly and behind closed doors for most of the season. The Hawks' brass sent down Barry Smith, the team's director of player development and a longtime assistant of Hawks senior adviser Scotty Bowman when they were with the Red Wings, to help out Quenneville and his staff. But that may have caused even more confusion, and it also was seen as a message of unhappiness to Quenneville and assistants Mike Kitchen and Mike Haviland.

The Hawks' power play ranked 26th with a 15.2 percent success rate. It got even worse in the playoffs and was one of the main reasons they were eliminated, finishing with an awful 5.3 percent success rate.

"The power play -- it was unacceptable to have the caliber of players we do and to not have it work," general manager Stan Bowman said. Some of his top players, though, said personnel may be an issue. Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland all said the Hawks need more of a net-front presence, which they had in previous years.

--Patrick Kane became a star in the NHL at right wing. But he spent most of this season at center as the experiment in the preseason became nearly a full-time job for Kane.

The 23-year-old had statistically the worst season of his five-year career, recording just 66 points after being a point-per-game player the last two seasons. He struggled in the faceoff circle, winning just 42.2 percent of his draws. The Hawks have had a hole at second-line center for a couple years, but general manager Stan Bowman scoffed at the notion that the Hawks should fill it, saying Kane can do it.

"Not only did our team play well when he was in the middle, he played well," Bowman said.

On the other hand, coach Joel Quenneville said he'd like to see rookie Marcus Kruger develop enough to produce in the second-line spot. When Kane was filling in for an injured Jonathan Toews at first-line center and doing well, Kruger handled the second line.

Kane, though, was at his best at center down the stretch with Toews out with a concussion. Kane said he likes center and it doesn't matter where he plays. He even played one game at left wing in the playoffs.

"I never really played center before," Kane said. "It was the first time I was playing center. I had to try it out. Even when I wasn't doing that well at center in November or December, the team was still winning."

"Our goaltending, in general, was not our strength this year. I don't think it's fair to lay the blame on one player. You win as a team and you lose as a team, and I think we need to be stronger defensively. . . . (But) individually, he has to be better." -- General manager Stan Bowman on G Corey Crawford.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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